First, let’s start off with few personal checkpoints according to Shopify inventory management:
- Which is inventory management system best for me?
The answer is pretty simple – the one which will suit your business the best.
- But isn’t this article about Shopify inventory management system and I’m reading it because I am already a proud owner of Shopify store or going to be the one, so I consider it as a decent inventory system for my business?
Well, duh. But why would you ask this question then? Or do you think (or even hope) that there are better options?… Let me say that you are most likely right, but we’ll talk about that later on. Now let’s have a closer look at Shopify inventory management system itself.
How Shopify inventory management system will help me organize my store?
Shortly – a lot. But, if seriously, this system is pretty great and it does everything what it says it does, despite it being basic and only Shopify store-oriented (duuh). Filling your Shopify stores’ inventory with goods isn’t just ordering lots of items, giving names and tagging them with barcodes/SKU’s and leave them be somewhere “over there”. Well, that might work if you have 3,5 items in your inventory. But what if you have hundreds of them? That’s where Shopify inventory management more or less shows itself off.
Of course, this inventory management system allows you to name your products, attach pictures, description, tags, price them with already included taxes (or not). For shipping purposes you may assign weight to a product (or to its variants), and, as we have started talking about shipping, you can introduce tariffs for every type of shipping you provide.
But the most crucial point for proper inventory handling is assigning SKU’s and/or barcodes to your items. That is where Shopify inventory system is pretty helpful too. You can assign already existing barcodes and/or create new ones. Shopify even provides its own barcode scanner alongside with their POS terminals, but that is completely different story.
After creating your products, grouping all of them might be a great idea and Shopify allows you to do this with ease. You can group your products by category, type, season, sale etc. Or you can use smart collections to sort them according to price, vendor, and inventory level. Also, the number of your products and their types is not limited.
Options and tracking
Probably, some of your items (or all of them) will have their own variations, and handling those, without proper inventory management system, can be a real pain in the arse. And again Shopify’s native system saves the day. With it, you are able to create an unlimited quantity of options (different sizes, materials, colors) for every item. And every option can have its own price, SKU, weight and inventory number.
Tracking your stock counts might be the most helpful feature provided in this inventory management system. It helps you to fight over-ordering, or what’s even worse, finding yourself unable to fulfill the order because you have surprisingly run out of stock. If this struggle is real for you then you might like this function. If it isn’t – you’re either really lucky or too smart to be true. But, anyway, with it, you are able to track your stock counts with ease, set up automated reminders so you could place orders when the count hits a certain number. It will also update inventory numbers for you when you’ll receive a new shipment.
Shopify inventory management system, as mentioned above, despite its basic functionality will keep your inventory in a great shape. Of course, considering you’ll be putting enough effort into it. It has all necessary features and huge capabilities to be enhanced with third-party apps from Shopify app store. It can easily satisfy all your needs for small or medium Shopify store, either it is an online shop or a regular brick-and-mortar store.
And what if I’m a growing e-commerce giant?
If you already have thousands of items in stock, or you are considering the possibility to extend your shop to other e-commerce platforms then, obviously, this system won’t be so suitable. You’ll find yourself in a position when Shopify inventory system won’t be able to cope with all your goods and orders. Also, you will discover that this system totally lacks in automation.
You will be living your life near your computer with your Shopify store, babysitting every single order, keeping an eye on your stock level, balancing on-hand inventory with purchase/sales orders and invoices. And don’t even start on variants, you’ll drown in them. That’s how it looks for a T-shirt with 3 sizes and 4 colors.
In this case, you might consider using apps from Shopify App Store or 3rd party apps, tools, programs. There are plenty of them all over the internet or in aforementioned Shopify App Store. Options are pretty limitless: from cheap (or even “free”) “plugins” all the way up to expensive enterprise solutions. It is all up to you to decide what suits your business best.
If you own a regular steadily growing shop on Shopify only, which brings you something from a few hundred bucks to a thousand. With few exceptions, you can use apps from Shopify store to automatize your ordering and shipping processes, enhance your possibilities in creating bundles and kits, find something to manage your variants. And for sure you’ll need some proper (almost certainly 3rd party) accounting software. So now you have to keep all this pile of apps integrated, synchronized and updated! A bit frustrating, isn’t it? Plus the majority of more or less decent apps cost a sum comparable with some ERPs.
Free apps or …CRM?
And what if you are planning to expand to another ecommerce platform or you already run a store on it? Now you can’t stick to the Shopify apps only, some 3rd party application will be necessary for sure. Firstly, it would be a good idea to answer yourself these questions:
- What do you sell (food, regular goods, handmade items, services)?
- Who or what else has to be updated about your inventory (suppliers, other sellers or agents, some other apps/systems)?
- How big your business is and how big is it going to be?
- How fast are you going to grow?
- What is your supply chain?
- Do you operate with drop-shipping?
- How frequent are your inventory updates?
And now it is time to choose the one. As mentioned above, they come in very various shapes, sizes and (sometimes this is the most decisive factor) prices. In addition to a decent inventory management system you will likely need a client relationship management (CRM) system.
A CRM input into ecommerce business is whole another topic. But all you have to know (and you probably do) is that 20-30% of your customers bring you near 80% of income. So why don’t you care about them with a proper CRM system a little bit more?
An inclination to go with free apps is strongly understandable and it might work for you in a short perspective. But consider a situation when you have grown over this basic functionality. Then you have to customize your old app (comes with a price), or get a new and more costly one. And you have to integrate it into your trading system and work-style, move all your data, and learn features again.
OK, so what am I supposed to do then?
The decision is pretty obvious. Find an application with a basic functionality which will allow you to start and a pricing plan which will allow you to grow. Though the best option will be a possibility to customize the app for your own needs, as nearly any ecommerce business is pretty unique. The way you operate it may be even more exclusive. And this tendency only intensifies while you grow.
For full disclosure, this is where EasyERP excels. While bringing in great capabilities from the start it allows you to customize it on your own as it is open-source. Or you can request a customization which will suit your needs perfectly. This means that you can have a comprehensive inventory management software with already included CRM and ERP functions. And it will grow according to your demands alongside.
Also, EasyERP already has a swift integration with Shopify, Magento, Etsy and more to come platforms. This allows you to set up your store quickly on another platform, so your business won’t be limited to Shopify only. Or vice-versa, if you want to extend it on Shopify from another platform.
And, as we are talking about inventory management here, EasyERP provides great experience in using the one.
Our pitch thereon
With a high level of automation in processing of orders of any types, capability to operate thousands of items, bundle creation function, goods-out notes, stock corrections, transfers and ability to create reports of nearly any type even drop-shipping looks like a job to do. And once again, all of this is strongly interconnected with complete CRM and accounting, independent expenses and purchases modules. And even a decent HR management possibility.
As a conclusion to everything above – Shopify native inventory management system is a decent tool. It’s like a small handbag with a few extra pockets, it will suit you well for a small walk. But what if you you are going on a big trip? Wouldn’t a big backpack with lots of pockets and options be way more preferable? The same goes for Shopify, its inventory system is good. But only until you discover that it is just not enough for you.